MBA@UNC Graduate: Jim Omartian

Jim Omartian didn’t just learn from his professors, he decided to become one. When he started the program two years ago, he was the director of sales and marketing for a large, global supplier to industrial and commercial facilities in Ohio. Today, he’s preparing for a new chapter of learning at UNC Kenan-Flagler. This fall, he will begin studying to earn his PhD in accounting. Then, he will continue on to pursue a new career in academia. “I knew I wanted to make a career change,” says Omartian. “I just didn’t know what it would be — or what it would look like. I was really inspired by some of my professors. I found the work and research they were doing to be really interesting. I started talking to them more about what THEY did. The more we talked, the more they felt that I might be a good fit. And it kept going from there.” Omartian had worked in his job for almost seven years when he decided it was time to earn an MBA. “My background had been in computer science and engineering,” he says. “But I wasn’t doing any of that. I felt uncomfortable discussing things such as accounting – I wanted to fill in the gaps and learn more about what I didn’t know about business.”

“Looking back I’m not sure I really knew what to expect,” he says, “but it far exceeded my expectations.”

MBA@UNC appealed to Omartian because it had a “low-risk factor.” It provided an opportunity to earn a degree from a reputable school without having to commute to campus, quit his job or move. “I really liked how the program was packaged,” he says. “It’s a comprehensive program that’s not watered down one bit. They throw a lot at you, but in a way that didn’t feel completely overwhelming.”

“One of my favorite memories of the program was my first Global Immersion, which was San Francisco,” says Omartian.

“Online, we’re all the same height — it was fun to see what people were really like. Plus, the immersions make what we learn applicable. The school does a great job of putting them together.”

When asked what advice he would give to someone considering the program, Omartian says, “Take the time to create social connections with your classmates. They’re important. I was really surprised by the strong connections I made with my cohort.”

“I think the success of this program is going to help change minds and redefine what it means to learn online. And it’s going to grow even more significant overtime.”

In closing he says, “When I first approached my boss about this program she asked me if I really wanted to do this program — she had the same stigma about online programs that I think many — even I — had. Her concerns reinforced my own doubts as to whether I was going to get what I want out of it. In the end, I totally did.”